There's No Getting Off (The Grid)

Maybe we should think of “off grid” living as life that requires energy outputs to be equal to, or less than, inputs required to survive. Although in that case, as mentioned downthread, it’s likely that folks living in major metropolitan areas are living closer to the bone (so to speak) than the average rugged individualist out in the sticks.


No-coal wasn’t in the specs! (No-oil was.) But that all is technically achievable.

You can have those in either a bioplastic flavor, or as metal cans.

I admit being too worn to care much about the environment anymore, for better or worse…

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Use this handy website to get a hold of him = off grid?


Their focus is actually more on keeping their community independent and harmonious. So, lighting your house by hooking it up to a faceless corporate utility that carefully meters what you use is out. Battery powered lanterns and solar power OTOH are fine.

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To me, off-grid living means not depending on things that are delivered from far away. you get hungry, you go kill a living thing of some sort, prepare it, and eat it. You get cold, you find some fluffy stuff and make a nest. You get thirsty? find a source of liquid nearby.

You might want a few tools to make some jobs go easier and faster. You can make those out of whatever sticks and rocks you can find.

Anything else is cheating.


Old fogey test:

“Where did you get your axe?”


How about calling it “their system”? What I hate about people discussing The System is that it implies they have no systems of their own, and are hence doomed to failure before they even start.

This seems like an argument about the purity of one’s own personal definition of what the “grid” is and how far off it you are and for how long. I’ve always thought of it as the ability to live as if one were the last person on earth; in other words, if I woke up tomorrow and all of the grids and networks that I’m usually tied into–power, information, medicine, etc.–were just flat-out gone, would I have sufficient tools and resources to survive longer than the expiration date of whatever food was left, if any.


i totally agree that yes it is possible and technically feasible, just highly unlikely currently.

Give me a M! Give me a E! Give me a H! What does that… meh…


[quote=“boingboing, post:1, topic:51120”]
Prepping for the apocalypse will always be a poor bet statistically
[/quote]Well, depends upon how one defines apocalyptic, in my opinion.

I’ll put it this way – decentralized, more sustainable energy is a good idea for more than just climate change. I’m no doomsday prepper, but I do think it’s wise to have solar panels, solar water heaters and always have some drinking water stored, along with some canned goods, etc.

The next time the power goes out, it might stay out… for a very, very long time.


[quote]Technically, using a gasoline engine to split wood is completely off grid – “the grid” generally refers to the electrical grid. Kevin and Will are standing in the middle of a field with no power lines in sight.

But I know what he means – it’s the spirit of the thing.[/quote]

Sounds like a semantic problem! The grid has traditionally referred to the electrical grid. What we could suppose they mean is what has been called “sufficient living”. That is, striving for minimal dependency on others, especially avoiding relationships which are likely to be exploitive. As an oft squatter myself, people have often asked me about what kind of inter/dependence I enjoy. In urban environments, I found that conditions were comfortable and I minimized environmental impact by scavenging. It would be disruptive to chop down one of the only trees in the neighborhood so I could have the satisfaction of making my own furniture - while meanwhile wasteful people discard good furniture on a regular basis. I can re-use things for practical reasons without being dependent upon much.

It sounds like many here posit sufficient living as being a deliberately low-tech, secluded affair. But avoiding dependence upon exploitive utilities in no way implies that one can’t generate electricity, or participate on computer networks. Some might decry an infinite regress of needing to make all of your own tools, smelt your own ores, etc - it is up to the people in question how far they choose to take it. Most kinds of consumerism have a degree of choice which allows for less exploitive, more inter-dependent options, such as doing business with other individuals or small companies. Somebody even just getting rid of their monopolistic utilities is doing more to be sufficient than most.


The prepper, homesteading, self-reliance, and off-grid impulses all seem to be a manifestation of a need to feel in control of one’s own destiny. They are the result of a societal anxiety & irrational mistrust that seems to have infected us.

However these impulses need to be recognized for the lies that they are. Feelings of anxiety and worry, if they do not have a rational cause, are just feelings. The idea of a self-reliant individual, who stands on his or her own to self-sustain indefinitely, seems to echo the myth of the Nietzschian superman who manages to transcend his natural herd state.

Nietsche’s superman will never exist. We are human beings. Like dogs, our ancient hunting partners, we are creatures of the pack. We need each other to survive. To stand alone, is to abandon humanity.

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Reminds me of the Monty Python sketch of the man who was going to ride a tricycle across the Atlantic. His tricycle, specially adapted for the crossing, was ninety feet long, with a protective steel hull, three funnels, seventeen first-class cabins and a radar scanner.


Actually, in many cities the buses run off of natural gas rather than gasoline, so they wouldn’t technically need oil (although I know a lot of natural gas is obtained as a byproduct of oil drilling).

If a solar megastorm happened, all your solar panels and such would be destroyed, though. They have electronics in them. It would be like the Carrington Event, but worse. The most practical form of energy would probably be coal as that can be easily mined and burned without electricity.

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Yeah, we’ve got a couple of experimental models running in our city, too.

Who exactly are “us”? Your assertion that people only homestead or live sufficiently out of anxiety sounds awfully reactionary and impractical. It seems more likely that people strive to live with some autonomy not to “feel in control”, but to actually be in control. And by "in control " I mean that in ones daily life, decisions need to be made. You either make them, or roll over and abdicate them to someone else. Even then, how do you evaluate and decide who to deal with, and to what extent? This is how people negotiate and navigate social life.

You seem to be implying a vague connection between these two ideas. Everything should be recognized for “what it is”, which hardly suggests that what you posit here is any sort of bedrock of reality. So, how do you think people should rationally determine their participation with others? If you dismiss your anxiety and worry, than what rational basis of decision making do people use? And if you are too cynical to believe that there is a rational basis for this, how do you propose it be done?

You seem to be missing the point entirely. Refusing to be exploited has nothing to do with isolating oneself. It is about asserting ones rights to associate and create social relationships and structures. To be more social than those who have had a cocoon made around them and prevented from engaging in meaningful, practical social activity.

I was just in Lancaster, PA recently. It was noticeable how many Amish were being driven to and from work (in places with modern electronics), but then their homes have no electrical lines going to them.

It’s hard to maintain your stand when the world keeps changing around you. I find it interesting where the lines are being drawn, and where they aren’t.

[quote=“jhbadger, post:37, topic:51120”]
If a solar megastorm happened, all your solar panels and such would be destroyed, though.
[/quote]Just be sure to keep a “spaceweather" alert from several sources on Raspberry Pi with Internet and set up said computer to trigger automatic disengagement (breakers, unterminate wires). Can also check in remotely with smartphone to make sure. Also keep a spare charge controller or two in a faraday cage. Should be OK after some other precautions are taken.

Then again, there this info from this link that seems to say that everything should be fine even without all that setup above:

" … The cause of the damage comes from the surge in power which the power lines and transformers are exposed to when the unusually high volumes of solar particles charge the network.

If a CME were to hit your solar panels, then the inverter that is load-protected and fused would cause your system to shut down automatically. If your inverter has been specified correctly, then in most cases, your inverter will be over-specified for your system anyway. Worst case scenario will mean your inverter will blow a fuse and a simple fuse change will get your solar panels back to full working order.

If the outside power network is affected by outages such as those experienced by Quebec in Canada in 1989, then your photovoltaic system will automatically shut down to protect itself. Once the power companies engineers have completed there repairs then your system will automatically start-up again.

For owners of solar heating panels such as evacuated tubes then the same is true with your solar controller that is protected by your home’s internal trip switches. No known issues are known to affect these types of solar heating technologies.

Satellite technology encompassing PV solar technology have been circulating our planet since the 1950s while enduring varying amounts of solar weather and most are still operational today … "

[coal] can be easily mined
It is?